Jon Teitel's 2k Sports Classic Observations
Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State
- There were only about 500 people present for tip-off, so it was eerily quiet.
- The highlight was the great cameos by some basketball legends. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dropped by to receive some recognition for his work to fight cancer, while Pete Carril and Jim Phelan received the Lapchick Award.
- The Aggies were missing their leading scorer Khris Middleton due to injury, so they struggled to find an offensive punch in his absence. Elston Turner turned it on late in the first half and finished with a team-high 13 points, while Dash Harris fouled out after shooting 1-8 from the field.
- The Bulldogs hoped to use their size up front with the tag-team of 6'11" Arnett Moultrie and 6'10" Renardo Sidney, but they combined to shoot 2-for-16 from the field. Dee Bost had a game-high 20 points and four steals, but had some occasional sloppy play and seemed to force a lot of his shots. Mississippi State got out to a 31-9 lead after 10 minutes of action due to making each of their first five shots from behind the arc, then let the Aggies creep back into the game by not making another three-pointer until the final three minutes of the game.
- Best post-game quote from Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury: "Rodney Hood is as level-headed as any freshman I have ever had."
St. John's vs. Arizona
- Even though this was a late tip-off (9:35PM EST), the crowd had increased to about 5,000 people who cheered on the hometown team.
- Due to some eligibility issues the Red Storm only had eight guys on its roster and used a seven-man rotation. They like to run and do a good job of hitting the boards. Nurideen Lindsey is an athletic point guard who is good at getting into the lane, but his seven turnovers almost equaled that of the entire Arizona team, and his fifth foul with four minutes left took a lot of steam out of the Storm. Half of the roster are freshmen, and three of them scored in double digits (Phil Greene, Moe Harkless and D'Angelo Harrison). Despite their youth, St. John's was able to withstand an early nine-point deficit and make a nice 17-4 run midway through the 2nd half to take a 66-58 lead with seven minutes to play.
- The Wildcats came out strong by making five three-pointers in the first seven minutes. Bronx native and recovering shooting victim Kevin Parrom got a big ovation after checking into the game and earned more applause after making his first shot from beyond the arc. Arizona had five different players make at least two three-pointers, and their long-range shooting was the key to their victory. They have two impact freshmen of their own (Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson) who combined to score 19 points (which included a sensational alley-oop). The Cats' interior defense fell apart a bit in the 2nd half, but back-to-back timeouts by Coach Sean Miller got them back on track, and they finished the game on a 23-6 run to seal the win.
- Best post-game quote from Coach Miller: "I cannot understate the importance of Kevin Parrom, which is why I am excited about our future."
Texas A&M vs. St. John's
- This turned out to be the most exciting game of the tournament. The Aggies got out to a huge rebounding advantage (23-9 at halftime), as Kourtney Roberson came off the bench to grab 11 boards in only 19 minutes.
- Ray Turner almost became the goat after fouling Lindsey with two seconds left in a 58-57 game, but Lindsey missed both free throws as the Red Storm crowd groaned its disapproval. Lavin called Lindsey over before the free throws, and told him to "get some lift in the legs and use the fingertips for touch, as well as to have fun with it." St. John's could not blame the refs for the loss, as they ended up with a 38-3 free throw advantage, which is about as one-sided a stat as I have ever seen in a basketball game.
- Best post-game quote from Coach Kennedy: "I have never been in a situation with that big a free throw discrepancy, so we were blessed to get a win."
Arizona vs. Mississippi State
- The worst shooting display of the week was by a large Arizona fan in a shooting contest during a break in the action, as he missed ten straight layups in a 24-second span. Simply pathetic!! The Wildcats' undersized frontcourt kept them in the game. 6'7" Jesse Perry did a little of everything en route to his fourth double-double in five games, and 6'6" Solomon Hill constantly got to the rim while ending up with 12 points and nine rebounds. After shooting 21 free throws the previous night, the Cats did not make a free throw until there were eight minutes remaining in the game.
- Moultrie celebrated his 21st birthday in a big way with 19 points and 10 rebounds in only 25 minutes (8-9 FG, 3-3 FT), a beautiful alley-oop, and an MVP trophy to bring back to Starkville. Sidney was effective early before coming out midway through the first half with an injured hand. He later came back in after bandaging it up, but only ended up playing 20 minutes. Bost lost his shooting touch from the previous night (3-12 FG), but he played 38 minutes and his six assists almost matched the entire Arizona team. The Wildcats got as close as 57-55 in the final five minutes before the Bulldogs scored 10 straight points to win the title.